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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Book Reading Goal : Week 12

After a slight pause with the reading, I have returned this week with another Lembani Trust publication - Kalonga Gawa Undi X : A Biography of an African Chief and Nationalist, by Walima T. Kalusa. It does exactly what it says on the tin - it provides a biographical account of the late Undi. It was fascinating reading about his contributions to the freedom struggle and how he became disillusioned with Kenneth Kaunda and Frederick Chiluba. 

Kalonga Gawa Undi X. A Biography of an African Chief and NationalistMany of the themes explored we have already touched them on both the House of Chiefs and this website. In particular, the central thesis of the book, which is that far from the predatory picture painted by Mamadani and others, Zambians chiefs steered a careful course and were not merely instruments of oppression. Undi was to all intents and purpose one of the fathers of modern independence, alongside Chief Mphanza. They used their traditional and financial muscle to steer the independence struggle pro-actively. See previous reflections on this post, which I hope to expand on in the future in light of this book.

This is the third Lembani book I have read - previous books here and here. Although I have enjoyed all the three books, and will prove useful sources of references, I was generally disappointed with their length. But as I have reflected it is certainly the right size for a Zambia audience. Its my view that a book 100 pages or so is more likely to be read than a 300 page volume. We don't exactly have a reading culture. So I hope Lembani continues to keep them that length.  These books are a must read for all Zambians, especially the new generation born after 1980. However, the size does certainly mean that it would be counter productive to offer a lengthy review on it, along the lines I prefer. Just in case you have been wondering why they have not made the review list. 

Books Read So Far : 9 books
Remaining Books to Achieve Target : 41 books
Weeks Remaining to Achieve Annual Target : 40 weeks

1 comment:

  1. You should check out this review of the land reform situation in Masvingo Province. An understanding of the impact of land reform is crucial to future agricultural policy.

    Zimbabwe's Land Reform: Myths and Realities (African Issues)
    Editorial Reviews

    Review

    This is an important, exciting and hugely impressive study which throws original light on the impacts of Zimbabwe's controversial Fast Track Land Reform Programme in one province, Masvingo. It is without doubt a major contribution to scholarship which deserves to be widely read. - Robin Palmer, Mokoro Ltd, Oxford; formerly Global Land Adviser, Oxfam GB, author of Land & Racial Dominance in Rhodesia This book represents arguably the most comprehensive empirical evidence challenging the popular myths that Zimbabwe's land reform has been a total failure, attributed to political cronyism and lack of investment. The book will be most instructive for South Africa and Namibia as they ponder a way forward with their own land reform challenges. - Mandivamba Rukuni, formerly Chair, Commission of Inquiry into Zimbabwe's Land Tenure Systems This book is a comprehensive assessment of the nature of agrarian change during the last decade. It captures the diverse range of real life responses of newly resettled family farms and the new small to medium scale commercial farmers to changing commodity and financial markets within the new agrarian landscape, during a period of economic distress. - Sam Moyo, Professor & Director, African Institute for Agrarian Studies, Harare This important study breaks new ground in its exploration of livelihood dynamics and the complexities of social differentiation within redistributive land reform. It is likely to influence both scholarship and emerging policy frameworks in the 'new' Zimbabwe. - Ben Cousins, Research Chair on Poverty, Land & Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape Whatever you thought about the land issue in Zimbabwe, be prepared to change your mind. Events in Zimbabwe since 2000 have been so coloured by superficial media reporting and obscured by strident political posturing that little attention has been directed to what has become of the thousands of families that received land following the occupations...Despite the unevenness of outcomes to date, they have succeeded in establishing a base for themselves as serious producers with the capacity to contribute significantly to Zimbabwe's agricultural economy. - Bill Kinsey, Professor, Ruzivo Trust and Free University Amsterdam
    Product Description
    Ten years after the land invasions of 2000, this book provides the first full account of the consequences of these dramatic events. This land reform overturned a century-old pattern of land use, one dominated by a small group of large-scale commercial farmers, many of whom were white. But what replaced it? This book challenges five myths through the examination of the field data from Masvingo province: Myth 1 Zimbabwean land reform has been a total failure Myth 2 The beneficiaries of Zimbabwean land reform have been largely political 'cronies' Myth 3 There is no investment in the new resettlements Myth 4 Agriculture is in complete ruins creating chronic food insecurity Myth 5 The rural economy has collapsed By challenging these myths, and suggesting alternative policy narratives, this book presents the story as it has been observed on the ground: warts and all. What comes through very strongly is the complexity, the differences, almost farm by farm: there is no single, simple story of the Zimbabwe land reform as sometimes assumed by press reports, political commentators, or indeed much academic study.

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